Reader, I blush to admit it, but The Guardian was my bible, my quran, my little red book, for the majority of my media consuming adulthood. I would argue with my Express reading, immigrant fearing, Brexit voting mother until she was blue in the face and I was red in mine. Luckily I didn’t have to endure the same head/brick wall style arguments with my friends, because they all read the same newspaper, so we could get together and weep and wail and gnash our teeth beneath the yoke of oppressive, fascistic patriarchy and feel aggrieved and powerless and disenfranchised together. I thought we should throw open our borders to all comers and I thought Jeremy Corbyn would save us all. True, I thought he may well drag us back to some joyless, brutalist reimagining of the 1970s, but the alternative – I was reliably told – was for the Conservatives to drag us back to the 1940s. They would probably gas a lot of us, or at the very least have the working class plugged into some Matrix-style arrangement of delusion and subjugation, siphoning our hope and vitality to feed the ever ravenous monstrous machinery of global capitalism, something like that. Our society was corrupt, moribund if not already rotting in the streets, in need not of renovation but of wholesale replacement. Virtually everyone was oppressed – and even though I was amongst the oppressed, I was also an oppressor by virtue of my white, male privelege. So I was doubly fucked – I was at the very back of the queue waiting in line for liberation, and I had to feel ashamed to be standing there, and even though I was at the very back I should feel like a queue jumper which, for a well brought up Englishman, is a truly dreadful thing to be.
After standing at the back of this queue for some time, I began to grow niggled by a few things. Not outraged – only fascists are outraged – but niggled. Some things I was being told began to sound less like revealed truths and more like shoddily cobbled together bullshit. In particular the growing stridency of those engaged in identity politics began to exasperate me – though the Guardian told me it shouldn’t. To me all these niche groups of intersectionalists began to look more and more like Wile E Coyote, sawing frantically away at the branch he’s standing on. It began to look to me like those on the left – my comrades – were arguing ever more forcibly for an ever smaller slice of the pie. They didn’t seem to want to share the pie – despite shouting about inclusivity with a mouth full of crumbs – they seemed to want their own, very small, very clearly cut slice of the pie that they could take away to their lair and eat on their own. It didn’t look like inclusivity to me – or equality, but divisiveness. My fellow Guardianistas told me this wasn’t the case – these people had been deprived of pie for too long, and it was now no longer an option that we might be able to share nicely. They were taking the pie back. They took a slice for women and then the women cut that piece up so that black women and disabled women and the gay women and the men who said they were women all had their own piece and then I guess it came down to a crumb per person and it was all a load of nonsense. But maybe not. It just didn’t seem like this was equality – not as I’d understood it, but a demented tribalism which was ultimately going to divide us all into little groups of one, surrounded by our own fences, proudly looking at our crumb, the crumb that we’d struggled so energetically for while the rest of the world fell to pieces outside. Phew.
There were other things. I’d always respected and helped wherever I could in my own small way women’s struggle for equality. And it kind of looked to me, from where I was standing in a succession of minimum wage jobs, having nightmares about not being able to feed my son or pay the rent no matter how many hours I worked, that…well, they were pretty equal. Certainly in my life they were. At LEAST they were equal. But apparently not. And it began to seem like feminism didn’t really seem to be about equality anymore, but about female supremacy. But the Guardian assured me that was my toxic masculinity talking, and while I was taxing my tiny, toxic mind thinking about it, I should know that all the solidarity I thought I’d shown to the universal sisterhood was nothing but a flaccid insult and I should zip it back up and carry on feeling guilty about everything.
And then The Guardian told me about a ‘controversial’ Canadian clinical psychologist whose legions of toxic male ‘followers’ had deluged Channel 4s Cathy Newman with misogynistic abuse and sweaty palmed death threats. I’m not a fan of misogyny or death threats under any circumstances, but I’ve got the same puerile fascination with Canada and psychology and controversy as anyone, so I went to YouTube and watched the interview that had caused all the hoohah.
Red pill moment. Here was a man who was calm and reasoned, not responding with anger to the interviewer’s nonsensical assertions and embarassingly transparent attempts at dialectic sleight of hand, who seemed to be speaking truth to political correctness. He was composed and rational and incisive and logical and had great eyebrows. And that, dear reader, was the moment everything changed.